The Lovely Garden Blog

Shrubby Matters

Viburnum opulus RoseumGardens of all sizes benefit from a selection of shrubs. They give height, width and stature but can add so much more in the way of scent and colour. Shrubs can perform all through the year, with flowers, berries, leaf colour and structural shape.Men worry about shrubs. In fact women worry more about men worrying about shrubs. You just know when ‘the man’ is going out there to prune and it won’t be at the right time, when the flowers have finished or to promote the right kind of growth for next year. If a man prunes a shrub it’s because a) He wants to get out of the house for a couple of hours and b) He knows that some other job might loom if he doesn’t. As a general rule of thumb, prune your shrub just after it’s flowered. I’ve been to gardens with the most wonderful mature specimens and I say to the clients ‘Oh, you’ve got Ceanothus Concha. You lucky thing. It’s such a gorgeous dark blue,’ and the poor lady of the house says ‘Dark blue flowers? Has it? I’ve never seen it flower,’ and the man rises quickly from the sofa and offers me a cup of tea…..There are some shrubs that deserve to be in every garden, regardless of size. My favourites are the Viburnums. I remember when I first became passionate about plants and used to drag the family around every NGS garden open. I saw, and smelt, my first ever Viburnum Burkwoodii in a garden just by Stopham Bridge. It was growing up a sunny wall, almost like a free-standing climber. The scent was intoxicating. I could have stood there all day, burying my nose in the flowers. They smell like a bunch of old fashioned pinks, but headier and addictive. I have three specimens in my garden at home, and when they flower I cut a tiny flower head and put it on my desk.My other favourite Viburnums are Opulus and Bodnantse. And I even like good old Davidii, with those wonderful blue steely berries from the autumn onwards. The Opulus is also called the Snowball bush, for obvious reasons. It’s that lovely limey green colour and the flowers are a greeny cream. They’re great for flower arrangements and blowsy and romantic. Lest I start to sound like Carole Klein after a gin, I’ll move onto evergreens. Sometimes you need an evergreen shrub and do have a look at Prunus Lusitanica. I often design it in as a hedge, but it’s a good performer with long racemes of white flowers in the spring, red growth at the end of the new stems and black looking berries in the autumn. Skimmia is always worth including too, especially ‘Kew Green’, which is that lovely limey colour again. It’s so scented in the early spring, and works well near the front door. Two other doorway performers are the Daphnes and Winter honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima.  Daphne is so strongly scented you’re in danger of not going into the house, but standing out there with your shopping, sniffing the air and getting cold. The honeysuckle needs much closer inspection. The scent is subtle, sweet and so delicate. I was in the habit of sticking my nose right into the flowers on my way out each morning until a lady in Waitrose kindly told me it was covered in yellow pollen.








This entry was posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2013 at 4:21 pm and is filed under Plant passions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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